Perfect Guide To Bali
Travel 20 May 2019 Arabia Day Newsdesk 0
Wondering where to go in Bali? How to create the perfect Bali itinerary? I’m very happy to help you plan a trip to Bali that you’re going to remember. Why should you trust me? Well – Bali was my base for more than a year so I feel like I know Bali pretty well!
The first time I visited Bali was in 2016. I was coming from Java, one of the neighbors’ islands after an exhausting two weeks. I ended up in Canggu, which is pretty popular in the backpacking community. In 2017, I decided to go back to Bali. I even decided to move to Bali.
Bali became my base, my home and one of my favorites places in Asia! After spending more than a year here (on and off), I feel like I’ve seen many places in Bali, but I also feel like I can help you make the most of your time on this beautiful island.
This ultra long article will feature a lot of information about Bali including the best time to go, the top places to visit, the most beautiful areas as well as travel tips for those who are traveling solo, on a budget or simply visiting Bali for the first time.
Table of Contents
Best Time to Visit Bali
The best time to visit Bali is definitely the dry season (between April and September).
Traveling during the rainy season is cheaper, but this means you’ll have to deal with the almost daily rain. Kindly note that it only rains a few hours per day. Sometimes, it doesn’t even rain… and sometimes it rains all day. That being said, the rainy season is pretty unpredictable. So, perhaps, you should take a look at this Bali packing list for both seasons.
Planning Your Bali Itinerary | Most Beautiful & Best Places To Go in Bali
It doesn’t really matter if you’re planning a few days, a week, 10 days or two weeks in Bali. I personally think that the longer, the better. You could easily spend a month in Bali and wish you would have stayed longer! Indonesia has a lot to offer and it’s also the case for the very popular island that is Bali.
To start, we’ll talk about the best places/regions to visit in Bali. Then, I’ll give you examples of itineraries to consider depending on the number of days you’re planning to stay.
Also, in my opinion, unless you’re planning on doing some partying at Skygarden in Kuta or some shopping in Seminyak, I don’t think it’s necessary to visit Kuta or Seminyak unless you’re planning on relaxing in Bali. These itineraries are perfect for those who are planning to visit Bali and get outside the main areas.
How to Plan Your Bali Adventure
Uluwatu is one of my favorite places in Bali. This is where you’ll get the best sunsets in Bali, some of the best waves if you’re into surfing and the most beautiful beaches on the mainland.
Most people can sometimes be disappointed with the beaches situation in Bali. I tell them to head to Uluwatu! Many beaches in Bali are amazing for surfing but aren’t that pretty. In Uluwatu, you can find turquoise blue waters as well as pretty amazing beaches.
Uluwatu is the perfect choice if you’re into photography, surfing, partying and beach bumming. If you’re planning on doing a surf camp in Bali, you should consider doing it in Uluwatu. I tried Rapture Camps (they have two different camps in Uluwatu) and they are amazing especially if you’re a beginner or an intermediate.
Read more about Uluwatu:
Highlights in Uluwatu:
- Uluwatu Temple – Check tour that includes Kecak Dance
- Omnia Beach Club – Visit their website to be aware of the upcoming events.
- Single Fin – Ideal for sunset and partying. Their best parties are on Sunday and Wednesday.
How many days are recommended in Uluwatu?
Uluwatu is a great spot to enjoy the beach or a surf – but there’s not so much to do apart from that. That being said, unless you’re planning on enjoying a big relaxing session – a weekend (2-3 days) would be more than enough. You could also just visit on a day trip in you’re on a tight schedule.
Where to stay in Uluwatu?
Canggu is my favorite place in Bali as it’s the perfect town where to live! It’s known as the backpacker’s paradise, the party hub, the digital nomad spot and is also known for its surfing options that appear to be perfect for the beginners out there.
Canggu is a great spot, if you are seeking a spot where to relax, surf, enjoy some of the best sunsets and party. But, apart from Tanah Lot Temple, there’s not a lot of things to do in the area. It’s a hipster place where you can find any sorts of restaurants and cafés, but you won’t want to spend too long around here if you’re into adventuring! The truth is that it’s pretty easy to get stuck in Canggu. Many people tend to stay a few days… and then they decide to stay even longer… which means they might run out of time to appreciate the rest of Bali.
Read more about Canggu:
Highlights in Canggu:
- Tanot Lot Temple – Join the sunset tour
- Alternative Beach – The most affordable day club in Canggu including daily events.
- The party scene including Old Man’s Bar, Sand Bar, La Brisa, Lost City, X Bar, Pub Island Bar, Backyard, etc.
How many days are recommended in Canggu?
As mentioned above, there aren’t a lot of things to do in Canggu apart from surfing, partying and relaxing. A few days would be more than enough unless you just want to surf and party. It could also be a good base for day trips around Bali.
Where to stay in Canggu?
Ubud is a popular spot in Bali. There are a lot of attractions/activities in Ubud such as cooking classes, temples, the Monkey Forest Bali dancing shows, etc. It’s also a great starting point to get to see rice terraces, for the Mount Batur trekking or to go on a waterfall adventure. There are many waterfalls around Ubud (and around Gianyar) and you should definitely see them while you’re around.
If you’re after a yoga retreat or just a very chill atmosphere, there’s a cool community living in Ubud. It’s also pretty popular for digital nomads and backpackers. I’d say Ubud is an excellent base if you’re planning on doing adventures around this area or if you like to mix spirituality as well as work.
Read more about Ubud:
Highlights in Ubud:
- Waterfalls chasing – If you don’t drive your own scooter, you can join a tour and see the best waterfalls around
- Tegalalang Rice terraces
- Monkey Forest – Visit the monkeys and join a tour
How many days are recommended in Ubud?
You could easily spend 2-3 days (or even more) in Ubud. Personally, I was never a big fan of Ubud as it does feel quite touristy, and the crowd is a bit different. Although, if you’d rather go off the beaten path, you should head north where you can also see monkeys, rice terraces as well as waterfalls without the big crowds.
Where to stay in Ubud?
Munduk is located in the North of Bali, but it’s not on the Northern coast. It’s lesser known if we compare it to the other destinations that have been mentioned before, but I only see great reasons to add it to your Bali itinerary.
Munduk is known for its incredible waterfalls as well as the Twin Lakes. We’ve all seen magnificent photos of this region on Instagram as it’s also where you can see the famous Ulun Danu Beratan Temple.
Driving around Munduk is also pretty fun as you’ll find scenic roads where you can enjoy views of the volcanoes, epic rice terraces and lake lookouts. You won’t be disappointed, trust me!
Read more about Munduk:
Highlights in Munduk:
How many days are recommended in Munduk?
I visited Munduk a few times, for day trips and for weekends. I think 1 or 2 days is enough to see the highlights.
Did you know? You could get an extra Airbnb discount using this link! If you already have an account, you can create a new one. Thank me later!
Where to stay in Munduk?
Lovina is also not that popular and it’s located in Northern Bali. It’s right on the coast and it’s well known because of its dark sand beaches and its dolphins. You can also enjoy some epic sunsets in this area as well as sunrises. Lovina is a good base for those who want to relax or explore the surroundings (Munduk or other waterfalls in the area).
Read more about Lovina & surroundings:
Highlights in Lovina:
How many days are recommended in Lovina?
Similar to Munduk, it’s the kind of place ideal as a base to explore the surroundings. You could stay there for 1 or 2 days while you explore the north of Bali.
Where to stay in Lovina?
Amed is located on the northeast of Bali. It’s one of the most beautiful towns in Bali according to my standards. Imagine Mount Agung and the sea when you look away – it’s hard to beat a view like this. Ideal for those who are planning on diving in Bali or even on a snorkel trip. The water is calmer around there, which makes it ideal for these activities.
Amed is also an excellent spot where to relax away from the busy crowds that are so easily found around Bali.
Highlights in Amed:
How many days are recommended in Amed?
Amed is a good weekend spot which means that 1-3 days is more than enough to explore the area. As it’s quite far, I would recommend you spend at least one night there to make it worth your time to get there.
Where to stay in Amed?
The Nusa Islands are located only 30 minutes away from Bali. Imagine clear turquoise waters, spectacular cliffs, gorgeous beaches and you’re almost there. Nusa Penida and its two sisters, Lembongan and Ceningan are known to be quite exotic, and absolutely beautiful. The best beaches in Bali are there. So if you feel disappointed by the beach situation in Bali, that’s where you should go.
I personally only visited Nusa Penida at this point as I was going on a diving trip there, but surely, if you have more time, you should visit the two other islands which are easily accessible from Nusa Penida.
Read more about the Nusa Islands:
Highlights in Nusa Penida:
- Kelingking Beach
- Angel Billabong
- Broken Beach
- Snorkeling and diving
How many days are recommended in Nusa Penida?
If you’re planning on checking out the two other Nusa islands, you should stay at least 5 days. Otherwise, 3-4 days in Nusa Penida should be okay. People tend to forget how big Nusa Penida is and if we take the state of the roads into account, it takes a long time to reach the beautiful spots sometimes.
Where to stay in Nusa Penida?
Recommended Bali Itineraries
Before I make my own itinerary suggestions for your Bali adventure – I hope you got a feel for every destination listed above. Everyone is different – everyone has different taste when it comes to travel and depending on your holiday needs – you might want to experience something else – which is totally understandable.
I identified different needs with different suggestions too. Then, you can take a look at my examples of itineraries in Bali.
- The best Bali spots for surfing: Uluwatu & Canggu
- The best Bali spots for couples: Uluwatu, Munduk, Amed, Lovina, Nusa Penida
- The best Bali spots for solo travelers: Canggu & Ubud
- The best Bali spots to relax: Lovina, Amed, Uluwatu
- The best Bali spots for party animals: Canggu
- The best Bali spots for yoga lovers: Ubud & Canggu
- The best Bali spots for adventurers: Amed, Munduk, Nusa Penida
Bali Itinerary 7 Days
7 Days in Bali is a bit short – so you might want to stay on the mainland. You could either pick one destination or visit these three main spots.
- Uluwatu (2 days)
- Canggu (2 days)
- Ubud (3 days)
Bali Itinerary 10 Days
10 Days might allow you to visit another destination. It’s still going to be short.
- Uluwatu (2 days)
- Canggu (3 days)
- Munduk (2 days)
- Ubud (3 days)
Bali Itinerary 2 Weeks
2 weeks allows you to see more places around Bali without feeling the time pressure.
- Uluwatu (2 days)
- Canggu (3 days)
- Ubud (3 days)
- Amed (2 days)
- Nusa Islands (4 days)
Bali Itinerary 3 Weeks
3 weeks allows you to see more places around Bali without feeling the time pressure.
- Uluwatu (2 days)
- Canggu (4 days)
- Munduk (2 days)
- Lovina (2 days)
- Ubud (4 days)
- Amed (2 days)
- Nusa Islands (5 days)
Bali Itinerary One Month
One month in Bali will allow you to see more places around Bali without feeling the time pressure. I didn’t add any numbers of days, as I believe you don’t want to plan everything in advance if you’re traveling at a slower pace.
If you’re sticking around for one month, you could also visit the Gili Islands and/or Lombok. I would also recommend checking out Komodo/Flores while in Indonesia.
- Nusa Islands
Bali Travel Tips
Budget Travel in Bali
To give you a rough idea of the travel cost in Bali, here are the cheapest things you can find.
- The cheapest dorm found in Bali is currently at $3 per night.
- The cheapest daily rate for a scooter is at $3.50 per day.
- The cheapest meal you can get is around $1.
You can read my backpacking guide to Bali here.
Although you should keep in mind there will be a lot of temptations in Bali – so many good restaurants and cafés to pick from – and those aren’t always budget-friendly.
Bali Visa Information
When entering Bali, you can get 30 days of free entry. To get the stamp, you simply have to go through the main immigration lane.
If you’re planning on staying longer, you’ll have to head to the “Visa on arrival” office to pay a $35 fee. They accept different currencies, which makes it quite convenient. This visa on arrival gives you the right to extend your stay up to 60 days. You will still have to go to immigration to request this 30 extra days. This procedure requires you to head to the immigration for a total of 3 times:
- Form and fees (another $35)
- Photo and fingerprints
- Passport collection
To avoid this, I normally use an agent (visa4Bali), which means I have to head to the immigration office only once for my photo and fingerprints. They will send someone to pick up and drop off the passport – it’s more convenient and you will waste less time this way.
If you’re planning on staying for 6 months, you could also get a social visa before entering the country.
Is Bali Safe?
Overall, nothing happened to me in Bali (knocking wood). Although, there are many scams and things to be fully aware of while in Bali. I did have to take many precautions in Bali and the goal isn’t to scare you here. It’s important to be aware of these things to avoid being in the middle of a dangerous situation.
As mentioned above, nothing happened to me as I was fully aware and cautious about all the things listed below:
- ATM scams: Card skimming is pretty common in Bali. You can join Facebook groups to be aware of the last card skimming in Bali. I personally used the Maybank ATM in Canggu and so far, so good. My pick was the Maybank ATM located next to the Savage Kitchen. Save the location here.
- Bag snatching: Unfortunately, purse and bag snatching is also pretty common, especially when it’s dark outside. The best way to avoid this is to put your purse in the seat of your scooter or to make sure your backpack has straps at the front too. It is pretty common for people to be driving at night and getting their purse snatched. It happened to two of my close friends while I was living in Bali. My main concern about this is the crash risk. The thieves might push you off your bike while trying to snatch your purse. (My friend got kicked off her scooter and they managed to snatch her purse – and she got injured.) This might sounds scary – so to avoid being in this situation – you should always put your purse in your scooter seat. That being said – if you are walking around at night, you won’t be able to avoid potential bag snatch – so try to avoid walking alone at night if you can.
- Groping: Unfortunately, some areas in Bali especially dark shortcuts in Canggu area, have a pretty bad reputation for ladies. Many of my female friends got groped in dark shortcuts just outside Canggu on their way to Pererenan area. To avoid these situations, you should take the busy main roads instead of the dodgy dark roads and you could also put a jumper or a sarong on to cover yourself at night. This way you won’t get any unwanted attention while you drive and it could keep you safer at night.
- Currency exchange scams: You should try not to use the currency exchange shops while in Bali. They are very good at showing an amount of money and giving you a different amount. Unless you want to witness a magic trick, you should simply avoid them. If you have to change your currency, then make sure to count everything before leaving and insist to get your money when the money is missing.
How to get around Bali?
You should note that there is no public transport in Bali. To get around the island, you have a few options:
- Driving around the island with a scooter
- Hiring a driver
- Using apps such as GoJek or Grab to go from one place to another
Driving your scooter WITH a helmet
If you decide to opt for the first option – driving your own scooter – please wear your helmet. In places like Canggu – driving without a helmet is tolerated by the police in certain areas (not on the main road Raya Canggu). Although, scooter crashes happen regularly – and too often. Unfortunately, people die regularly because they aren’t wearing their helmet. So forget about your hairstyle – and be safe while you drive. That being said – make sure your travel insurance covers you if you’re planning on driving a scooter.
Learning how to drive a scooter in Bali
If you really want to drive around Bali – you could get a scooter lesson with a local. I know a few friends who decided to do that until they felt more confident driving around. It’s a great way to feel safer and also to be safer for the other drivers out there.
You can check Bali Scooter Lessons and Kadek Local Bali – which were recommended by several female expats in Bali.
Driving your scooter & the police
One of the common scams in Bali is the police bribing situation. It happens regularly that you’ll see a bunch of police officers stopping the foreigners as they drive in Bali. These random – not so random – checks are normally close to touristy areas.
Here’s what going to happen:
- The police officer will ask you to go on the side of the road. They will ask for your international driving license. If you don’t have it, they will tell you to go to the court the next day to pick up your driving license – OR to give them money.
- Once you open your wallet, they will likely ask you for all the money you got.
- Yes – this is a bribe. Once you stopped, it’s going to be hard to get out of this situation without paying.
Here’s what you can do to avoid these situations:
- Unless you’re in the wrong – like if you drove past a red light – you shouldn’t stop. I personally never stopped when I was driving. I normally spot them in advance and I keep driving in the fastest lane with the locals and I look away.
- You should not keep all your money in your wallet and if you do – just hide it in a secret pocket or something. The lesser, the better. I personally try to keep little money in my wallet at all time.
- If you do get stopped, you can tell the police officer you live there and you’re aware of this scam. If you already have your international driving license and your helmet on – you should be okay. If you don’t have it – you can try talking Bahasa with them or let them know you’ve been there for a while. You might be lucky, who knows? I never personally stopped – but my friend did once when he was driving. I managed to get the driving license back while telling him I knew this was a scam, that I was living there and I refused to pay him and walked away with the license back to the scooter. They didn’t go after me – and this was a bold move. Whatever you do – do it with respect… and hope for the best. (Of course, if you try a bold move like this – it’s at your own risks.)
Getting Your Canggu Life Started
If you’re thinking of moving to Canggu – been there, done that. I normally am able to handle everything in advance because I have a lot of contacts in Canggu, Bali. If you’re looking for a place to stay long-term as well as a place to rent your scooter from – I’m happy to send you a list of contacts that you can trust – because I trusted them myself.
Although – I do not give out my contacts for free. For a small fee, I’ll give out my list of contacts and help you set up your Canggu life. Get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.
More Helpful Information on Bali
What to do when you get Bali Belly
What to pack for Bali
The best gems of Bali
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